Introduction

Many of you have been waiting for us to review more low-wattage power supplies. We have written about power consumption several times in the past, and we have made it clear to AnandTech readers that in most cases there is no need for a high output power supply when 400W to 500W units will do just fine. We picked a collection of such units from high-end manufacturers throughout the market, and in fact we received so many power supplies that we had to split the roundup into two parts. The first part will contain power supplies rated at 300W to 450W while the second part will focus on 500W to 550W units.



Nowadays it is very hard to find high performing units with low wattages, since manufacturers mostly aim for bigger units where they can make more money. In most cases, the high manufacturing costs of smaller units with better technology stands in the way. Nobody wants to pay $100 for a 400W power supply; there is simply no market for these units, which is why most of what we see in this field is cheap units with very poor performance to say the least. However, there are still manufacturers out there producing low-wattage units for the enthusiast market; Seasonic for example makes 300W units for OEMs as well as selling them under their own retail name.

Another issue with low-end power supplies is that they normally come with a poor selection of connectors that only lets them operate simple systems, even though they could power a decent midrange graphics card. The units we will be reviewing today are from higher-end manufacturers and some even come with a 6-pin PEG connector. Two units even come with two 6-pin connectors, which is very nice to see. The market is changing and even vendors that had 500W as the lowest wattage options in their repertoire now offer smaller units. For example, we introduced the Thermaltake TR2 QFan series recently, which starts at 300W. We will include the 400W TR2 unit today, which performs quite well.

We will also have a few world premiers today. Cooler Master sent their new Real Power Pro power supplies rated at 360W and 400W. Enermax also sent a new version of their older Liberty series, this time called Liberty Eco. Silverpower, which is not much known in the U.S., has a new OEM power supply from Seasonic that will also be in today's roundup. Silverpower is actually a spin-off from Maxpoint's Tagan brand, since customers wanted something less expensive than the usual Tagan offerings. Finally, we will have a few OEM units from various manufacturers today that we can compare with their retail brothers.

Antec Earthwatts 430W
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  • Origo - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    How can Silverstone Element ST40EF 400W get so good score on quietness and efficiency compared to Silverstone Element Plus ST50EF-Plus 500W?
    This (SPCR) review says Silverstone Element Plus ST50EF-Plus not that quiet or efficient:
    [url]http://www.silentpcreview.com/article670-page1.htm...[/url]
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, January 07, 2009 - link

    Could you comment on this PSU? I know you have a 500 and 550w article coming up but an incredible deal ($25 after rebate) came up on this PSU and I'll snatch it up for my build if it's good.

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • Markstar - Wednesday, January 07, 2009 - link

    As usual, thank you for your interesting review and the effort you surely put into it!

    Greetz from P3D!
    Reply
  • yehuda - Sunday, January 04, 2009 - link

    This is the kind of article I like to keep in my favorites and refer people to. Reply
  • Noya - Saturday, January 03, 2009 - link

    I skimmed through, but I didn't see what type of set-ups you'd recommend for this class of PSU.

    So, I'll post what I'm using with a Corsair vx450:
    Q8200 @ 3.3ghz (475x7)
    8gb Ballistix DDR2-800 cas4 @ 475mhz (4x2gb)
    Evga 9800gtx (stock clocked for now)
    Gigabyte P-45 UD3P
    3 x 7200rpm sata disks
    2 x DVD/RW
    3 x 120mm fans

    It's been running fine for almost a month now (thanks MS for the 30% eBay cashback lol). I previously used this vx450 in my first build (s939 Opteron/7600gt).
    Reply
  • OddJensen - Monday, January 05, 2009 - link

    The VX450 is a pretty good PSU and under optimal conditions you can probably draw more than the max. rated wattage (450W @ 50C ambient). Though personally I like to go with a bit more headroom taking future upgrades into consideration. Reply
  • kenyee - Friday, January 02, 2009 - link

    That's another way to group the power supplies.
    That's one reason I still use Enermax Liberty power supplies...they're a nice small size for HTPC's and the modular connectors are important when there isn't much space. Using this affects power efficiency which is probably why the highest efficiency ones don't use them...
    Reply
  • proci - Thursday, January 01, 2009 - link

    its a very nice test, i like it. i miss some words from the ripple side, they could be useful to those, who don't want to analyze so many graphs.

    i have an FSP 500 GLN60 (active pfc, smooth oemgrey color:D), i wanted a BS2, but the two seems to be identical to me (ok, it only has one 6pin connector). and i'm out of connectors (6molex, 4sata... with 7 HDDs/opticals, 2 fan controllers and only one video card). so having many connectors is a good thing, although you can buy molex duplicators (only downside is they cost money). and its still more than enough to power my system (q6600@3.0, hd3870, lots of vents, hdds...).

    and most of the computers are fine with just 200-300W. its a shame, that there aren't that many good PSUs on the low edge, because having a monster of PSU means you will have bad efficiency in idle with most of the computers. ofc you can build a computer, which eats up 1000W, but besides skulltrail its hard, and mostly needs enthusiast end water cooling/compressor for cooling purposes.

    and having a good PSU is like having good safety in your car: you only notice it when it fails, but then it is already too late. and buying a noname PSU means that you playing russian roulette all the time...
    Reply
  • Martin84a - Thursday, January 01, 2009 - link

    I find it weird people keep recommending Sea Sonic. I'm currently loojing for a new PSU in the 500-600watt range. I remember toms 24 hour PSU stress test, where Enermax, Zalman, Cooler Master and Silverstone where the last remaining, while Seasonic had failed with the rest.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/de/stresstest-netzteil...">http://www.tomshardware.com/de/stresste...etzteile...
    I just read Hardocps Seasonic S12II-500 watt psu review, and the transient load test showed awful results.
    http://hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTM2NCw3LCxoZW...">http://hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTM2NCw3LCxoZW...
    Think computer showed a lot of undervoltage ripple too, and on the 12v a lot of switching between overvoltage and undervoltage. That doesnt look good.
    http://www.thinkcomputers.org/index.php?x=reviews&...">http://www.thinkcomputers.org/index.php?x=reviews&...
    And i have read about the DOA Seasonics too, and the ones failing after some time...
    Seasonic also only provide 3 years of limited warrenty here like many other places, while a brand like Cooler master give 5 years, just like Corsair.

    Just makes you wonder.
    I think i'll go with an Enermax modu+ or pro+ this time..still not sure though.
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Sunday, January 04, 2009 - link

    Hmmm... your first link is to the german side of Tom's, and while we can make out perhaps the SeaSonic PS failed, searching the English side for the same article does not yield a proper counterpart, and the article that comes close to it, is not even finished and broken. What does that say about Tom's Hardware?

    Your second link does show some iffy parts, but overall, they recommend the power supply and dismiss the transient load results as not important. Btw, you think a computer motherboard is going to fry because the 12v line varies 0.2v? 4.92 volts is bad? Those voltages can vary 10% on the 12v line and 5% on the others and meet Intel's ATX spec. Welcome to the real world of imperfection.

    Three years vs 5 years, so what? My FSP power supply in the thrid computer I've built in 2001 still runs fine, and it came with only a 1 year distributor warranty. In fact, only 1 out of 10+ FSP power supplies died, and it probably died because the power strip blew.
    Reply

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